Welcome to Life Advice for Book Lovers, Lit Hub’s advice column. You tell me what’s eating you up in an email to [email protected] and I’ll tell you what to read next.
I’m an avid reader of Lit Hub and just had to take advantage of this new column. I love to read, I’m also a semi-collector of books. I used to collect first editions and rare books but can’t afford it anymore and got burned trying to sell some. But that’s not what this email is about. I’m bored with my life. I’m single, I work in a scientific medical library and I’m so bored. I live in the Midwest, where the dating pool is as big as a drop of water in a crack in a sidewalk. Nobody reads anymore… I’ve tried online dating but it’s awful and my interests and hobbies sound boring to outsiders. Also, I don’t want to have children and I’m not sure if I should get married. I own my own house (condo) and I have a dog (would like to save another million).
My dog is the brightest thing in my life. I have friends, I have depression and anxiety, I just want to get to know someone. Someone to go out and do things with. The older I get, the more I focus on minimalism. I only spend money on books. I have TV shows that I watch and wish I had the relationships that they have (Grey’s Anatomy). I always dreamed that I would have someone in my life who would love me outside of my family.
I’m 40, by the way. With enough therapy, I realized it wasn’t all my fault. Long story short – I’m just bored, so very bored with my life in general and looking for love.
The typical thing people ask for advice on…..I look forward to your book recommendation.
– Bored in Nebraska
Dear Bored In Nebraska,
First of all, I just wanted to tell you that you were the very first person to write to me, so thank you for your enthusiasm and more importantly, your vulnerability. Did you see fleasack? There’s a heartbreaking line in there that reads, “Love isn’t something weak people do.” To be willing to offer it, to seek it as you seek it takes a hell of a lot of courage. Courage most people don’t have. (Well, add that to your apartment and dog, and it sounds to me like you’re already winning.)
When I read your letter, Anita Brookner’s book immediately came to mind look at me. It’s as if she wrote it especially for you: it follows Fanny, a librarian at a medical research institute (!) who feels a similar uneasiness about her life and longs to find someone who will bring color to her life brings. Listen:
I have felt a boredom, a restlessness that no ordinary friendship can satisfy: only an extraordinary one. I’ve grown weary of my fate, I suppose, and desperate to change it. So I write and take a lot of long walks and I ferment my ideas and if I’m lucky they come out as vividly as I would wish in real life.
I’m not saying our heroine has all the answers, because she doesn’t. (Who does?) But she’s excellent company. I think if you can read a book with a character as charming and funny as her and find her in a place that feels familiar, it will be a kind of soul mate reunion.
May I be so bold as to recommend my favorite children’s book, Shel Silverstein’s The missing piece meets the big O? you will know why
I had a baby a few months ago and… I haven’t read much since then. I need something to read that a) grabs my attention and b) isn’t so stupid or badly written that I, a literary snob, will hate it, but also c) isn’t so smart and melodious that I, a sleep deprived person new parents lose focus and fall back on old episodes of Veronica Mars while the baby sleeps. If it helps, in my old life I liked postmodern tricks, edgy prose styles, and weird girls’ books. Help me Dodo!
Too tired to read
love too tired to read,
First of all, congratulations on your baby! (And sorry for your TBR stack.) I’m sure people have said this to you before, but I sincerely hope you don’t beat yourself up for not reading at this time, when the only reason why we read is to devote ourselves to another life for a while – something you do full-time.
Because you describe yourself as a literary snob, and because you used the word flattering yourself in a sleepless stupor, I will recommend Lore Segal’s Lucinella, an insightful and funny literati detective game from 1970. (Nothing has changed.) It begins with the Yaddo writers’ retreat (where else?) and follows his goals back to New York City, where they fail and none to speak of Make progress in your work and life. Our guide is the eponymous Lucinella, an obsessive, fear-ridden rioter.
I’d say it covers your needs for postmodern shenanigans and weird girl books pretty well. At 154 pages, this novella is a slim gem that you will no doubt fly through. It has short sections and wide margins, and lots of dialogue that makes you feel like you’re in the room. But remember – these are rooms of writer So you’ll be equal parts fascinated by her island gossip and ready to leave her if your baby demands it.